- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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For the first time in a while, the SEC is on the outside looking in on the national championship.
With Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame all undefeated and all ranked one, two and three in the BCS standings, the SEC needs a lot of help in the next two weeks if it's going to have a chance at adding to its current streak of six straight national championships.
While the SEC deserves to sit and hope after Alabama's loss to Texas A&M, there are some around the SEC who feel the SEC is still much closer to Miami than some think.
SEC coaches wouldn't compare SEC teams to the three unbeaten squads, but LSU coach Les Miles said that the winner of the SEC championship game between No. 4 Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC) and No. 5 Georgia (9-1, 7-1) should get a look at the national championship, regardless of what happens to the top three teams.
"I have an appreciation for what this conference has accomplished over time," Miles said on Wednesday. "I would think that the champion of our conference should be given tremendous consideration about playing in the game.
"Over time, this football conference has really shown that given the opportunity to play in the national championship [SEC teams] fair very well versus a number of conferences and a number of teams."
Alabama coach Nick Saban, whose team momentarily put down the SEC's championship torch with its 29-24 loss to the Aggies last weekend, wouldn't speak about non-SEC teams, but said the SEC champion should get a look at the national championship.
"If that elevates their status, then I think they deserve to go to the game," Saban said.
The past has been very favorable to the SEC, but the present might not be on the SEC's side. You never know how the computers will react to a one-loss SEC champion, and you also don't know how the human voters will view an Alabama or a Georgia after a win in Atlanta. But just to be on the safe side, the SEC should rooting hard for teams playing Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame during these next two weeks.
And that rooting won't just take place in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Athens, Ga. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said on Wednesday that even though his Gamecocks won't be playing in the Discover BCS National Championship in Miami, he's rooting for an SEC team to make it to South Beach to keep the conference's national championship streak alive.
"I guess we'd like to see an SEC team win it, certainly," Spurrier said. "All of us in the SEC would like to see that happen. I will still say that the winner of our game still has a shot at getting in the final game. Still gotta chance, I would say. I don't think it's over, yet."
It really isn't. If two of the unbeaten teams go down in the next two weeks and Alabama or Georgia have one loss after the SEC title game, the SEC will be in the national championship. Plain and simple.
And while SEC fans were giddy about Alabama losing over the weekend, it sounds like the league is hoping to see one of its own get back to the big game this year, even if it is Alabama.
"Yeah, I'd like to see the champion of our conference play in the national championship game," Miles said.
"Yes, I would."
2dSam Khan and Greg Ostendorf